Despite their importance to a wide range of athletic and sporting activities, the hip flexors are the most neglected major muscle group in strength training.
It is very rare to find training programs that include hip flexor exercises. By contrast there is usually a great deal of emphasis on exercises for the leg extensors.
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There are some obvious reasons for this comparative neglect. The principal muscles involved in hip flexion are the psoas and the iliacus, collectively known as the iliopsoas. Because they are relatively deep-seated rather than surface muscles they may have been overlooked by bodybuilders who have traditionally been the major innovators in strength training.
Secondly, there are no obvious ways to adequately exercise them with free weights. Finally, these muscles do not have the obvious functional importance of their extensor counterparts. Yet, as antagonists, both hip and knee flexors perform a vital role in controlling the rate of descent and ascent in leg extension exercises such as the squat. Quad Hip Flexor Stretch Against Wall
There is no corresponding problem of underdevelopment with the muscles responsible for knee joint flexion, the hamstring group. Because they cross two joints they are active in both leg extension and leg flexion. They act to flex the knee joint and also to extend the hip joint.
Therefore they tend to be strengthened by complex leg extension exercises. Also hamstrings can be developed and strengthened through the use of the leg curl apparatus.
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Strong hip flexors provide an advantage in a wide range of sports and athletic activities. In sprinting high knee lift is associated with increased stride length and therefore considerable attention is given to exercising the hip flexors.
However, they are usually not exercised against resistance and consequently there is unlikely to be any appreciable strength increase.
Hip flexor strength is directly relevant to a range of activities in football. Kicking a ball is a complex coordinated action involving simultaneous knee extension and hip flexion, so developing a more powerful kick requires exercises applicable to these muscle groups.
Strong hip flexors can also be very advantageous in the tackle situation in American football and both rugby union and rugby league where a player is attempting to take further steps forward with an opposing player clinging to his legs. Quad Hip Flexor Stretch Against Wall
In addition those players in American football and rugby who have massively developed quadriceps and gluteus muscles are often unable to generate rapid knee lift and hence tend to shuffle around the field. Having stronger flexors would significantly improve their mobility.
It is commonly asserted that marked strength disparity between hip extensors and hip flexors may be a contributing factor in hamstring injuries in footballers. It is interesting to speculate on whether hip extensor/flexor imbalance might also be associated with the relatively high incidence of groin injuries.
Other sports where increased iliopsoas strength would appear to offer benefits include cycling, rowing and mountain climbing, in particular when scaling rock faces.
The problem in developing hip flexor strength has been the lack of appropriate exercises. Two that have traditionally been used for this muscle group are incline sit-ups and hanging leg raises, but in both cases the resistance is basically provided by the exerciser's own body weight.
As a consequence these exercises can make only a very limited contribution to actually strengthening the flexors.
Until now the only weighted resistance equipment employed for this purpose has been the multi-hip type machine. When using this multi-function apparatus for hip flexion the exerciser pushes with the lower thigh against a padded roller which swings in an arc.
One difficulty with this apparatus is that the position of the hip joint is not fixed and thus it is difficult to maintain correct form when using heavy weights or lifting the thigh above the horizontal.
With the release of the MyoQuip HipneeFlex there is now a machine specifically designed to develop and strengthen the leg flexors. It exercises both hip and knee flexors simultaneously from full extension to full flexion.
Because the biomechanical efficiency of these joints decreases in moving from extension to flexion, the mechanism is configured to provide decreasing resistance throughout the exercise movement and thus appropriate loading to both sets of flexors.
The absence until now of effective techniques for developing the hip flexors means that we do not really know what benefits would flow from their full development. However, given that in elite sport comparatively minor performance improvements can translate into contest supremacy, it is an area that offers great potential.
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If you are experiencing hip pain, but you're not sure what type of injury you have suffered, or how bad it is, the below information should answer those questions for you.
There are three main types of hip flexor pain:
Pain When Lifting Leg
Hip flexor pain is often associated with pain while lifting the leg, but more specifically, pain only during this movement is usually a pulled hip flexor.
If you have a pulled flexor you may know it already, if you remember when it first started hurting, if it was during some sort of explosive movement, you probably have one. In order to test if you do, try standing on the opposite foot, then lifting your leg as high as possible(knee to chest), if you feel any pain at any stage stop immediately.
Once you have established that there is pain performing the knee to chest movement, it is almost certain that you have a pulled hip flexor. Please scroll down to the severity section to learn what his means.
If you have nagging pain throughout the day, and it hurts when you move your leg or stretch your hip flexor, you may have a case of tendonitis.
Hip flexor tendonitis occurs usually with athletes as an overuse injury. Whenever a repetitive movement is performed, such as running or cycling, there is a lot of force being placed on the hip flexors. Often this will lead to inflammation of the tendon attaching the hip flexor muscles to the bone and will cause a lot of pain.
Pain When Touching Hip Area
A bruised hip flexor is an umbrella term describing an injury to one or more of the several muscles that the hip flexor contains. If your pain started after a blunt trauma to this area, you probably have a bruised hip flexor.
It can be hard to tell the difference between a bruised and a pulled hip flexor, because you will often experience pain when lifting the leg either way. The difference is that in a stationary position, a bruised muscle will be very sensitive if you touch it.
So to diagnose this, stand up and slowly apply pressure to the different parts of the hip flexor; if the pain felt while applying pressure is similar in intensity to the pain felt lifting your leg, you probably only have a bruised muscle, this is great news!!
Bruised muscles only require a few days of rest and you'll be ready to go, although maybe a bit sore…To speed up healing, apply a moderate amount of heat to the area 2-3 times a day with a heat pack or warm towel, this will stimulate blood flow and kick start your healing system.
Severity of Injury
If you've identified that you have a pulled hip flexor, now we need to classify it into one of three types of pulls, after you have determined what class of pull you have, you can begin to treat it.
First Degree Strain
If you can move your leg to your chest without much discomfort, you most likely have a first degree strain; this is the best kind you could have.
A first degree strain means you have a minor or partial tear to one or more of the muscles in the area.
Second Degree Strain
If you had a lot of trouble moving your leg to your chest and had to stop part way through, you probably have a second degree pull.
A second degree pull is a much more severe partial tear to one of the muscles, it can cause significant pain and needs to be taken care of extremely cautiously in order not to fully tear the injured area.
Third Degree Strain
If you can barely move your leg at all why are you reading this article!!! Go see your doctor right away and try not to move your leg if you can avoid it.
A Third degree strain is a full tear of your muscle and requires a much longer time to heal, please get your doctor's opinion on this before you do anything else.
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In anatomy, flexion (from the Latin verb flectere, to bend) is a joint movement that decreases the angle between the bones that converge at the joint. For example, your elbow joint flexes when you bring your hand closer to the shoulder.
Flexion is typically instigated by muscle contraction. A muscle that flexes a joint is called a flexor.